Amy: Beyond the Stage, a new exhibition at the Design Museum is looking at the legacy of the artist 10 years on (already) from her death at the age of 27. It displays intimate items as well as objects that tell a story about what influenced her and shaped her throughout her youth and her short but influential career.
For many of us, the memory of Amy Winehouse has been shaped by Asif Kapadia’s poignant documentary Amy, which was released in 2015 and won an Oscar. The tragic aspect of Amy’s life was at the centre of that documentary and for Amy's family and friends, it is important to be able to tell their story, to reclaim her memory and bring a more positive focus on her life, with this exhibition.
‘It was a real struggle constantly seeing books and stories and negative things about Amy,’ said her friend and stylist Naomi Parry, who pitched the idea of the exhibition to the Design Museum last year.
It is also the last opportunity to see some of the singer’s belongings – currently administered by her father – which went to auction last month.
The result is a show that celebrates Amy’s incredible talent as a musician and performer and offers a unique opportunity to delve into her musical influences.
Fans will marvel at Amy’s early-life collection of letters, pictures and her personal CD collection which shows her eclectic tastes ranging from traditional jazz and rock to hip-hop and R&B, and includes Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Erykah Badu.
Londoners will feel a pang of nostalgia looking at pictures of Amy’s life in Noughties Camden, where she moved with one of her friends after signing her first big contract with Island Records in 2002. At the time, Camden was very much the centre of the London indie subculture and contributed to shaping Amy’s style, a unique blend of glamourous 1960s jazz singer – eyeliner, beehive and gingham dress – with street style and tattoos. ‘We found a style that was really comfortable with her and it became synonymous with her. It was her armour,’ says Naomi Parry.
There is a fabulous collection of dresses, from Chanel to Karen Millen, that the singer wore in her concerts and some over-worn high heels.
References to her drug addictions and eating disorders are subtle and portrayed through the lenses of the media at the time. The violence of the words coming from very serious broadsheets is gut-wrenching. It makes you realise that Amy lived at a time before Spotify and Instagram, and one wonders what she could have done if she had been more in control of her image.
The exhibition is filled with music. A final installation of Amy’s live performance of Tears Dry On Their Own, recorded at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2007, is likely to leave you very moved and wishing the singer could still be with us today. She would be 38.
|What||Amy: Beyond the Stage review|
|Where||Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London, W8 6AG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||High Street Kensington (underground)|
23 Nov 21 – 10 Apr 22, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|